What with all that was going on at York last week – including the creation of an equine millionaire in Stradivarius and the deflation of Battaash’s reputation as The Fastest Thoroughbred In The World – it would be easy to miss significant events that took place elsewhere.
For instance, instead of watching the runners entering the stalls for the Melrose Handicap over at the Knavesmire on Saturday, you could have been witnessing arguably the most impressive two-year-old debut of the season so far at the Curragh on At The Races.
The debut in question came from TEN SOVEREIGNS, an Aidan O’Brien-trained son of first-season sire sensation No Nay Never, who bolted up by seven lengths in a 25-runner maiden.
In visual terms, it was sensational. But what did it amount to and what can we expect of Ten Sovereigns in the future?
There are a number of ways to set about answering that, and they include by using timing and sectional analysis.
In overall time terms, Ten Sovereigns looks good: he ran the six furlongs in a time 1.53s (nearly 10 lengths) quicker than Lord Rapscallion did in winning a fairly useful nursery 35 minutes later. A one-on-one comparison would have Ten Sovereigns rated in the mid-110s if Lord Rapscallion had run to his best.
A rather more nuanced comparison with other times, at other distances, on the same card prompted a Timeform timefigure of 103. I have gone for 106: both figures are exceptional for a maiden winner.
Split times are difficult to get on the straight track at the Curragh but are assisted greatly by ATR’s superimposition of a running clock on the live pictures. Ten Sovereigns ran the second half of Saturday’s race in about 33.55s by my reckoning, a strikingly fast sectional in a race that produced such a good overall time.
Sectional upgrading methodology – as described in the free-to-download Sectional Timing: An Introduction by Timeform – suggests a rating of 117 on my figures for Ten Sovereigns as a reflection of the strength with which he finished his race in conjunction with that final time.
That is the kind of figure associated with a Group winner, and not just any old Group winner, either. Ten Sovereigns is already being spoken of as a candidate for the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on 29 September, and the numbers suggest that is highly realistic.
With regard to Ten Sovereigns’s likely stamina, there is some encouragement on his dam’s side that he will stay a mile (she won at 10f), but his striding on Saturday was that of a sprinter – peaking at 2.45 strides/second – and there seems no need whatsoever to try further just yet.
As a matter of interest, I thought I would look at similar examples of two-year-olds winning larger-field maidens at the Curragh by wide margins.
There are just three true qualifiers this decade, with Verbal Dexterity (who won a 12-runner 7f race on heavy by nine and a half lengths) and The Pentagon (13-runner 7f race on firm by a length less on his second start) coming last year. The closest “fit” of all was Smash Williams, who won a 24-runner 6f maiden in 2015 by six and a half lengths.
Each one of those won or was placed in Group 1 or Group 2 company later as two-year-olds, and they were rated respectively 119, 114 and 111 by Timeform at season’s end.
The signs are good for Ten Sovereigns, very good. I, for one, cannot wait to see him in action again!
York may have provided some glorious racing, but it was hard work in betting terms, in this corner at least. Regroup, reload: we go again.
The nursery at 3:40 at Carlisle on Thursday looks more inviting than most races over the next couple of days, and I reckon STRONSAY will either win or go quite close to winning.
He caught the eye behind Dark Vision at York on his second start and got the job done in a novice auction on soft ground at Thirsk last time, showing a fairly useful turn of foot at the end of a slowly-run race. His mark here of 71 looks far from harsh.
Roger Varian sends the promising THREE COMETS all the way to Hamilton on Friday for the novice stakes at 5:25, and there is a good chance the trip will be rewarded.
The son of Sea The Moon cost over half a million guineas as a yearling and served notice that he will at least prove above average when a strong-finishing third to Constant in a similar race at Yarmouth on his only racecourse appearance to date.
Things did not go Three Comets’s way that day, added to which he was green, and plenty of improvement should be forthcoming now.